Archives For Game Recap

Box Score: Lakers 115, Kings 107
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 119.8, Kings 111.5
True Shooting %: Lakers 65.5%, Kings 51.0%

This looked like the perfect trap game for the Lakers. The Lakers have a much-anticipated showdown against the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon. I’m sure the Kings don’t like being overlooked. But did the Lakers overlook them? Well…

There are a lot of kudos to give around. First off, Kobe Bryant, playing in that protective mask for the second straight game, played splendid. 38 points, 8 boards, and 3 steals. Efficient at 13 of 24 from the field and 11 of 14 from the foul line. He was in attack mode right from the start and he hardly forced the issue. Oh, and that three-pointer to essentially put away the game? Gangsta. Well done.

Andrew Bynum looked really good tonight. 19 points, 15 boards, and 3 blocks (not to mention, he altered a LOT of Sacramento’s shots). He overwhelmed the Kings frontline. Great job.

Metta World Peace got off to a slow start but finished strong as he had his strongest scoring output (15 points) since the second game of the season (when he scored 19 points, coincidentally, against the Kings). His timing was quite impeccable as he made a three-pointer (followed by a lay-up) to stop the Kings run in the 4th quarter.

Derek Fisher made all three of his shots (two BIG shots in the fourth quarter) AND played like a classic point guard. Seven assists by Fish tonight.

When Pau Gasol is not forcing lobs or listening to Lady Gaga, he contributed 15 points, 7 boards, and 4 dimes.

Lastly, I’ll give props to the bench for their play (well, mostly in the first half). Matt Barnes once again showed his hustle. He worked his way to 10 points. And Andrew Goudelock had a mini-explosion in the second quarter with 9 quick points. Troy Murphy hit the boards (6 rebounds) and Steve Blake was distributing (4 assists).

All of this contributed to a season-high 115 points for the L.A. Lakers. Beautiful offense (25 assists) played today.

The Lakers only played defense in the third quarter, it seemed.

But really, the Lakers let the Kings back into the game in the fourth quarter. The Sacramento subs showed a lot of heart in coming back. They chopped a 20-point Laker lead down to 5 as the Lakers got sloppy with the ball (5 of their 13 turnovers occurred in the top half of the fourth). It came down to the Lakers being more polished and experienced against the young Kings squad in this track meet of a game (somehow, the Kings only ended up with FIVE turnovers… gotta force more than that, L.A.).

I mean, all-in-all, the Lakers played really well considering the fast pace of this contest. They just can’t let teams get back into the game like this. The bench has to be better at sustaining the lead or putting the game farther away. The starters need to get their… oh, wait. Mike Brown would probably still give the starters run at the end. Never mind.

Also… Ron? I kinda want you to shoot less threes. Are you listening…?

Ask the Kings.

There are a few to pick from. But I decided to go with Bynum’s reverse jam alley-oop from Pau Gasol. Two seven-footers involved in that play? I’m sold!

I know there wasn’t much to talk about, but seriously, this was a fun game to watch (yay for offense!). And they beat a team that they SHOULD beat. No one’s really talking about it at the moment but the Lakers have won 7 of their last 9 games. I know the naysayers are like, “Well, it’s fool’s gold!” Or it was an “easy schedule.”  I guarantee that the complaints would be louder if the Lakers went 2-7 during this stretch. The Lakers are only taking care of business. Let them play ball. And they ARE looking better and better.

The Heat are coming to town for some Sunday afternoon action. I mean, it’s not like anybody is looking forward to this game, right?

Also, the Lakers are now 2-0 since the All-Star br… er… Kobe started wearing that mask. Maybe he should wear that thing forever.

Box Score: Lakers 96, Mavs 91
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.3, Mavs 104.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 58.0%, Mavs 48.7%

We knew that the Lakers had a bit of a tough mini-road trip ahead before the All-Star break. The Mavs have been pretty hot. They won 7 of their last 8 going into this game.

Hey there, Pau Gasol. Way to respond to trade rumors with this performance. Pau Gasol showed pretty much the whole repertoire today from the jumpers to the left-handed hooks to lay-ups to tiptoe dunks. 24 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. And he did a pretty decent job guarding Dirk Nowitzki, too.

Andrew Bynum looked pretty motivated earlier tonight, too. 19 points and 14 boards for the All-Star starting center. And his passing looked much improved today. Too bad, he didn’t get as many touches and shots as I would like.

Derek Fisher had a season-high 15 points in this game (topping his season-high of 13 which also came against Dallas). He shot 6 for 8 (2 for 3 behind the arc) earlier tonight. We all wish he could do this more often (only his sixth time getting double digits this season).

I like how the defense hunkered down on the Mavericks (the Mavs shot 40 percent). The Mavs were forced to shoot more three-pointers than they liked and it paid off for the Lakers (Mavs only shot 8 for 32, 25 percent!). There was also a huge stretch in the fourth quarter where the Mavericks didn’t score a point for nearly four minutes. The Lakers capitalized by going on a 9-0 run, which essentially put away the game.

The bench wasn’t exactly great today… but Matt Barnes nearly put up a double double (9 points, 9 boards). His hustle definitely helped out L.A. Especially late in the game after a missed freethrow (MORE ON MISSED FREETHROWS LATER).

Kobe Bryant didn’t let the game come to him. He stalled the offense in the 3rd while he tried to get his points. He also, for whatever reason, couldn’t handle the basketball and made some questionable decision-making. Kobe just didn’t look Kobe. He finished with 15 points (4 for 15 shooting) and 7 turnovers. But he did come up big at the end which I’ll bring up in a bit.

While I did like that the Lakers packed it in the paint, they still have to do a better job closing out on the perimeter. Yes, the Mavericks didn’t shoot very well behind the arc and we get that the 3-point shot is a low-percentage shot. But you still gotta come out and rotate. The Lakers were lucky that the Mavs didn’t make more treys. They lost a 14-point lead in the 2nd quarter partly because of back-to-back open 3s Dallas made.

And while we’re at it, the Lakers have to do a better job boxing out guys like Brendan Haywood and Shawn Marion. They were mostly responsible for 21 offensive boards for their team. The Lakers closed the gap with 17 of their own but they still gotta keep the other team in check when it comes to that.

The Lakers also had 17 turnovers. But again, Kobe did have the majority of them (he had 7 as mentioned).

Oh, and don’t let Vince Carter think it’s 2000 all over again. He had 18 points in the first half alone. Good thing that Metta World Peace did a decent job at him in the second half when he was out there (Barnes got the crunchtime minutes). Vince only scored 2 points in the final two quarters.

Shoutout to the refs who didn’t call a flagrant foul on Brendan Haywood. He clearly smashed Pau Gasol in the face late in the game.

Well… we already know if you watched the game. Freethrows. 18 for 31 overall. That was because they shot 8 for 17 in the 4th. They missed six freethrows in a row with less than a minute to go. That would drive anyone nuts. The game would’ve been over earlier had they made, at least, two of those.

I sure hope Kobe is shooting foul shots (5 for 9) at the American Airlines Center right now. And I hope he took Pau (2 for 6) with him.

Kobe to Andrew Bynum for the alley-oop dunk with 1:05 left in the game. That put the Lakers up seven (that should’ve put away the game… but ya know… freethrows) which made it a higher mountain for the Mavericks to climb. The play before that was pretty good, too, where Kobe passed it to Pau for a lay-up. Oh, Kobe. Two passes in a critical juncture after you tried to get your points? You’re such a troll. Anyway, the Lakers are now 2-0 against Dallas this season. It’s not the playoffs, sure, but I’m sure the Lakers and us fans can take a little satisfaction out of this.

The Lakers have now won 5 out of 6. They look more comfortable and settled in their roles. And even though the ending was a little bizarre, this is a BIG ROAD WIN by the Lakers. Yes, the Lakers laid an egg against the Suns at Phoenix but I’m going to look at that as an aberration compared to how they’ve been playing as of late.

No rest for the weary. The Lakers go to Oklahoma City tomorrow night for another big game. Both teams are going to be at the tail end of a back-to-back (the Thunder beat the Celtics earlier) so they’re both going to be pretty fatigued (although, yes, Oklahoma City has younger players). If the Lakers win against the Thunder, maybe the whole league should take notice of Kobe and the boys once again, eh?

Don’t stop believin’!

Box Score: Lakers 111, Suns 99
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 106.7, Suns 95.2
True Shooting %: Lakers 62.9%, Suns 53.3%

It is always fun to watch Steve Nash play. Too bad, the Suns haven’t been as talented as in years past. But, of course, that’s also good news for Laker fans for that it’s an “easier” game for L.A.

Kobe Bean Bryant. 36 points (18 in the 3rd!), 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals. 14/25 shooting. Efficient!

Kobe took what the Suns defense gave him and capitalized. The Suns couldn’t stop him. Grant Hill? Jared Dudley? Shannon Brown? No problem. Kobe brought it all out. Left-handed hook shots. Midrange jumpers. Three-pointer on the break. Reverse lay-ups. And the great thing about this? It was all within the flow of the offense.

The ball movement was crisp (26 assists) in today’s game (yes, I get that Phoenix is not a defensive juggernaut), even if it got a little sloppy at times. But, at least, the idea was there to keep the ball moving (I saw cutting! Amazing!). The Lakers were decidedly more patient today and got away with good shots more often than not. As a result of all of this, the Lakers finished with 111 points in tonight’s game, a season high. It is their fourth time hitting 100 (in 30 games) but we hope to see more of this kind of offense from the Lakers. Like I said, it may have been against the Suns… but practice makes perfect and, hopefully, they can do this against tougher defensive squads.

Yes, the big guys (Bynum with 17 and 14) got theirs but it was SO nice to see the Laker bench do something good for a change. Matt Barnes scored a season-high 17 points and snatched 7 caroms. The Laker bench scored 34 points overall and they looked very confident in the second quarter when they sparked an 11-0 run.

The Lakers easily killed the Suns on the boards, 52-36. And the Lakers were better in their shot selection. They only put up 11 three-pointers but they made 5 of them.

This is easily the best I’ve seen the Lakers offense this season (even if they did have a bit of a lull in the fourth quarter). Every player on the court usually touched the basketball in possessions. They attacked the inside with much gusto tonight (whether it’s the bigs bullying or Kobe making his way through… season-high 54 points in the paint!).

The Suns had a hard time scoring in the 3rd, even though they scored 25 points. They missed eight straight shots (mostly jumpshots) as the Lakers packed it in the paint in a key 14-0 3rd quarter run (Suns didn’t score for nearly five minutes). Good to see them give Phoenix a hard time on the defensive end (they also subdued Steve Nash’s scoring: 11 points… even though he did get 17 assists). Most importantly, fans in Staples Center got tacos and Internet L.A. got virtual tacos!

Pau Gasol looked like a sad panda out there. Gasol couldn’t get anything going in the offense and was even missing bunnies out there. He still got his eighth consecutive double double but he got his last few points (he finished with 10 points and 13 boards) when the game was pretty much decided. Gasol looked weary for the most part and I wonder if the trade rumors are starting to take a toll on him.

I would definitely like to see better pick-and-roll play. Our fearless leader, Darius, brought up the fact that the guards are giving up their dribble too early on the pick-and-roll. It pretty much stops the offense and it gives the defense a chance to swarm on the guards.

We saw some of that in the fourth quarter and the Lakers, notorious for blowing leads, gave up a 20-point lead that they built in the 3rd quarter. The Suns managed to cut it down to 5 (with a spectacular Shannon Brown putback slam… hey, remember him?!) before the starters came back to put away the mess. As much as the bench played well, they can’t give up big leads like this. They looked more hesitant in the fourth quarter, quite the opposite from what we saw in the second quarter. Put it away next time, bench, since the starters need as much as rest as they can in this compressed season.

Before the Suns hit that wall in the 3rd quarter, the Lakers couldn’t stop Marcin Gortat. Gortat eventually ended up with 21 points and 16 rebounds but he was less effective in the second half (he had 14 by halftime).

Also, Shannon Brown exploded for 15 points in limited time. I’m sure the Lakers miss his production. Even if he took questionable shots. Right? No? Let’s move on.

Lakers had 19 turnovers (Suns had 17). Most of this sloppiness occurred in the first half. Steve Blake threw some careless passes. Andrew Bynum still doesn’t seem to know what to do when he draws a two-team. At least, it was against the Suns… and a helter-skelter Suns team at that. Can’t do that against a disciplined team like the Spurs or the Bulls.

Also, I happen to like Metta World Peace personally but that fastbreak where he missed two lay-ups (including a… no-look shot)? Yeah. Ugly. But it made me laugh. Never change, World Peace.

It was very early in the first quarter where everybody (well, at least, four players) touched the ball that ended with an Andrew Bynum alley-oop lay-up from a nice pass by Pau Gasol. That was such beautiful basketball that I KNOW we’re capable of seeing from the Lakers. Ball movement is good! Keep it up!

The Lakers and Suns have a rematch on Sunday but this time around, they’ll be in enemy territory. The Lakers have now won three straight and I’m a little bit encouraged, guys! Hopefully, they can keep it rolling as they have a pretty tough schedule before All-Star Weekend.

Why can’t the Lakers play Phoenix every game for the rest of the season? Or ’til the world ends (I ALMOST inserted Britney Spears lyrics here; good thing that I didn’t)?

Box Score: Lakers 86, Hawks 78
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 97.7, Hawks 88.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 50.0%, Hawks 41.9%

Honestly… going into this game, I knew watching the game was going to be a chore. I always have a hard time watching the Atlanta Hawks play. Add to the fact that the Lakers haven’t been all that fun to watch, either, and I thought to myself that this game had a potential for a stinker.

But let’s start out with the good first. The good? The Lakers won. Hurray.

And for the most part, the Lakers had nice ball movement (20 assists) and went to their bigs quite often (which is, you know, common sense) until the Lakers distanced themselves from the Hawks. Pau Gasol had a nice 20-point, 13-rebound, 4-block outing. He even made a corner 3! Andrew Bynum got off to a fast start and, while he wasn’t much of a factor in the second half, he ended up with 15 points and 15 boards. The bigs definitely helped in edging out the Hawks in the rebounding battle, 52-47.

I wanna give Metta World Peace some credit here. He scored 10 points and it was his first time in double digits since January 22nd. And it’s the second game in a row where he made two three-pointers (yes, including that hilarious 3-pointer before the half ended where he held on the ball for what seemed like a minute). He even had a delightful jam near the end of the game. Nice to see him have a good game. Would like to see him put it together in a string of games.

The bench played pretty well today. Andrew Goudelock (NO MORE MINI-MAMBAS, BILL MacDONALD!!!) led the subs with 10 points. Steve Blake dished out 6 assists. Troy Murphy made a couple of linedrive threes. And Matt Barnes hustled his way to 6 points and 5 boards (that block on Kirk Hinrich’s 3-pointer at the end of the 3rd was great).

The three-pointers were going in. 8 for 17 against the Hawks. Not bad for the team who continues to be last in three-point field goal percentage.

Also, while the Hawks were held to 34.4 percent shooting, the defense should get some of the credit but not all of it. It was unbelievable that the Hawks were missing lay-ups all game and the game may have been closer had they made those. The Hawks scored 10 points in the 3rd (the Lakers weren’t much better at 17).

Of course, the game would’ve been done earlier if the Lakers actually took care of business at the other end. Lakers ended up at 44 percent shooting but they were under 40 for a lot of the game.

The Lakers had 17 turnovers and they started out the third quarter with three passes thrown away.

Kobe Bryant wasn’t Kobe today as he shot 5/18 (10 points!). In fact, the offense went to a halt when he tried to get his points at the end of the second, which prompted the Hawks to go on an 11-0 run.

Derek Fisher, in the meantime, has to cut off his toes. He keeps shooting the worst 2-pt shot in the game (THE FOOT ON THE LINE!!!). But, at least, Jeff Teague, the opposing point guard, was only “held” to 18 points (we all know what Jeremy Lin and Jose Calderon did previously).

Not a lot of bad happened in this game but…

This game was ugly. Period. Very hard game to watch. The fourth quarter was a complete offensive explosion compared to the third for sure but check out these droughts. The Lakers didn’t score for more than six minutes in the second quarter because they stalled and went away from what got them the lead in the first palce. The Hawks didn’t make a field goal for a full nine minutes (last 8:33 of the 3rd) as they hurried jumpers and missed shots your grandmothers can probably make.

The Hawks play a lot of isolation ball (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague among others) and it’s just not very fun to watch. The Lakers seem to play their best when they go inside to their bigs, which is, admittedly, not very fun to watch, either. And Kobe didn’t go off like he usually does… so what we’re left here is a slow, grinding, diffic… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

If you had other plans for Valentine’s Day, I applaud you. I love the win and, yes, I mentioned a lot of good for the Lakers here but that doesn’t mean it was aesthetically pleasing. This game would be the equivalent to an ugly girl with a great personality… and, in the end, you’ll slowly fall for her because of it. You’ll just have to embrace its faults.

Ron’s dunk was great and all but I’m going to go to the reverse lay-up by Kobe Bryant in the third quarter. It was vintage Kobe where he went under, from right to left, and finished with a twisting right-handed reverse lay-up. ‘Twas beautiful and one of the few bright spots for Kobe.

The Lakers have a home-and-home series against Phoenix next. The first battle starts at Staples Center on Friday. I expect Steve Nash to go for 2,000 points and 895 assists here but the Lakers SHOULD win this and make themselves a little more comfortable in the standings.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody.

Box Score: Lakers 85, Knicks 92
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 90.4, Knicks 97.9
True Shooting %: Lakers 50.0%, Knicks 54.5%

The Good:
I’m trying here, guys.

There were just a few stretches where you could say, “Okay, maybe the Lakers are going to be okay.” Pau Gasol (16 points) had a nice second quarter with 8 points but he got in foul trouble early in the 3rd. In desperation, Kobe Bryant (34 points) is second to none in terms of trying to rally his team back one-on-five.

Off the bench, Matt Barnes played a quiet good game with 11 points (5 for 6 shooting) and 6 boards.

I’m just grasping on straws here, aren’t I?

The Bad:
The Lakers looked like a tired team that just played an overtime game the night before (wait a minute). The porous shooting continues. 37.5 percent for the game.

At one point in the 3rd quarter, the Knicks were playing sloppily and the Lakers didn’t take advantage. Derek Fisher kept shooting the worst shots (foot on the line). Andrew Bynum looked tired/lazy out there (maybe it was because of the Knicks defense… but he only ended up with 3 points). Kobe Bryant started out 1 for 11 (before finishing with 11 for 29). Metta World Peace was definitely not living up to his name as he lost his composure. The bench (other than Barnes) once again failed to give them that lift. Steve Blake did a decent job defending that Knick guard that I will talk about in a bit but he shot 2 for 11 (1 for 8 behind the arc).

The Lakers left the Knicks open behind the arc but they were lucky that the Knicks only shot 5 for 21.

The Lakers turned the ball over often early. They ended up with 17 giveaways in the game.

Okay. Maybe he was underestimated but no one thought (well, maybe his parents did) that Jeremy Lin would explode for 38 points. They did the right thing initially by letting him shoot jumpers and getting physical with him. But they never did try to get the ball out of his hands. The Knick offense looked a bit more discombobulated with Lin not on the floor. Maybe it was magic or maybe he really is that friggin’ good of a basketball player… but Jeremy Lin was spectacular against the Lakers (NOBODY could stop him!). It’s a wonderful story and, even though I root for the Lakers, it is so nice to see someone like Jeremy Lin beat the odds and play out of his mind after he got a chance. I just hated that he did it against the Lakers.

The Ugly:
The Lakers fouled 29 times in the game. That’s almost like a dead giveaway of tired legs or lazy defense. But they sure couldn’t stop Jeremy Lin from getting into the paint. That gave the Knicks 11 more freethrows than L.A. and the margin of victory would’ve been larger had the Knicks made their freethrows (21 for 34).

The Play Of The Game:
I seriously had to think about this one. Remember that the Lakers never led in the game.

I’m going to have to go with Kobe’s difficult turnaround against Landry Fields with 5:26 left in the third. That was his second field goal of the game and he would go on to make four of his next five shots that put the Lakers within reach.

Unfortunately, Kobe had little help once again and the Lakers fell short as they continue to Jekyll and Hyde through the season.

It really is hard to find a balance for this Laker team. It’s a catch-22. Sometimes, they need Kobe to score 45 in a game. But yet people will clamor for Kobe to pass the ball inside. Sometimes, they need the bigs to have the ball. But yet people will clamor for Kobe to shoot more. It’s a no-win situation unless they win the game.

The Lakers face the Raptors on Sunday afternoon. You know how well they do on Sunday afternoon games. For all I know, the Lakers will go .500 the rest of the way as they beat powerhouse teams like Oklahoma City and lose to weak teams like New Orleans.

In short, this season has been frustrating for the Lakers. But, of course, you already knew that.

Box Score: Lakers 87, Jazz 96
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 103.6, Jazz 114.3
True Shooting %: Lakers 53.3%, Jazz 52.5%

The Good:
For most of the first 3 quarters, Andrew Bynum looked dominant. Nobody from the Jazz seemed capable of stopping his offense. He finished with another monster game with 21 points, 12 boards, and 2 blocks. We can’t ignore Pau Gasol’s production also… and while he took a team-leading 20 shots, he did finish with an even better statline (24 points, 16 rebounds, 2 blocks). He noticeably shortarmed a lot of his shots (including his freethrows) but, nevertheless, he had a good game, overall.

It was nice to see the Lakers’ Big 3 all get over 20 points. They also got to the line quite a bit (30 freethrow attempts by the Lakers compared to 20). They kept the game close for the first three quarters (biggest lead during that time frame was 6 by the Lakers). But the game is played with four quarters (insert very played-out LeBron James joke here).

The Bad:
Lakers shot 38.7%. Bad.

The Lakers lost their composure. We can all look at Mike Brown getting ejected after that play where Earl Watson pickpocketed Pau Gasol from behind (which looked more like a tackle). It got the Energy Solutions Arena crowd into it and the Lakers succumbed to a 16-1 Jazz run spearheaded by Watson himself (who had 8 points and 11 assists overall). The Lakers couldn’t execute in the fourth (heck, in the second half) like they did in the first half… and they couldn’t make a shot to save their lives.

While the Lakers did play well enough to keep the game close in those three quarters, Kobe Bryant looked like he was doing more bad than good during that time frame. He worked way too hard trying to get up a shot early and had two careless fouls in the third quarter. His aggressiveness seemed to work against him rather than for him. But it didn’t seem like much of a factor at the time as the game was close.

Late offensive boards killed any sign of a Laker comeback in the waning seconds. The Jazz beat up the Lakers on the boards, 50-42. And well… the Jazz, despite the Lakers’ big men getting big numbers, beat up the Lakers inside. Al Jefferson had 18 points and 13 boards while Paul Millsap had 16 and 13 to keep up with Bynum and Gasol.

Andrew Goudelock, who has been pretty good over the last few games, finished 1 for 5 (4 points). His misses were not pretty. And, by the way, can we stop with the Mini-Mamba nickname? Please? It’s horrendous.

Also, the Lakers only had 12 dimes (Jazz had 25). So much for ball movement.

Oh, yes. I know I haven’t mentioned that they got in late (4 A.M.). But it really shouldn’t be an excuse.

The Ugly:
As mentioned, Earl Watson led the Jazz to a 16-1 run early in the 4th. The Lakers didn’t make a field goal until 5:56 left when Kobe made the first of back-to-back 3-pointers.

We were thinking in the past few games that the bench may be all right since Goudelock has been carrying the load. With Goudelock not producing, the Laker bench only scored 12 points. It looks way worse when the Jazz bench scored a whopping 49 points. So as mentioned by fellow writer Zephid… if Goudelock goes, so do the Lakers? Pass me the alc… apple juice.

The Play Of The Game:
Bynum had the pass of his life when, after he hustled to get the ball after a Derek Fisher miss, he threw a no-look, over-the-shoulder pass underneath to Pau Gasol for the dunk. It was really pretty and it was nice to see the All-Star starter (YES! ALL-STAR STARTER!) make that kind of play.

Lakers go to Philadelphia next to continue on their six-game road trip. But the Lakers… well, they’re so Jekyll and Hyde. One game, they look like a pretty awesome squad. The next, they’ll lay an egg. I wonder which team we’re going to get against the Sixers.

At least, they won against Denver?

Box Score: Lakers 96, Clippers 91
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 114.3, Clippers 108.3
True Shooting %: Lakers 65.7%, Clippers 50.5%

The Good:
The good? A win, of course! They snap a three-game losing skid and beat a very good team.

Let’s give Pau Gasol a lot of props. He wanted the ball more and he got it. Pau finished with 23 points and 10 boards. What’s more? He was inside quite a bit in this game. It opened up a whole mess of options in the halfcourt set.

Metta World Peace was VINTAGE Ron Artest tonight. Yeah, you can look at the box score and say, “Well, he only scored three points.” But he did all the little things and was seemingly the main playmaker in this squad today. If you look across the rest of his stat sheet, he stuffed it with 5 boards, 7 assists, 2 steals, and a crushing block on Chris Paul. His timely plays in the fourth quarter (frustrating Blake Griffin in the process) put away the pesky Clippers late (which we’ll talk about later on in this recap). He also played a season-high 38 minutes as he gave hellish D to the Clippers.

The ball movement was much more crisp tonight. What’s more? The Lakers were making three-pointers! They made 8 out of 16, which is pretty phenomenal for the guys who are last in the league behind the arc.

Andrew Goudelock, who seemed pretty forgotten in this team, played the 1 tonight… but who are we kidding? He was in there to fire away and fire away he did. Goudelock poured in 14 points, easily a career-high. Without Goudelock and World Peace, the bench would’ve been completely shut out so it was really awesome to see them contribute.

It was also nice to see the Lakers pack it inside the paint on defense. The Clippers were struggling to get into the paint more and more as the game wore on (in contrast, the Lakers kept attacking… which gave them 32 freethrow attempts compared to the Clips’ 14). The Lakers answered the challenge after a fast 19-9 start by the Clippers. After tying it up at the end of the first quarter, the Lakers kept it close enough throughout the entire game and were able to wrest the game away from the Clips late.

I can’t forget Kobe Bryant. He had an all-around very good performance with 24 points, 7 boards, and 6 dimes. He made sure to get everybody involved in the first three quarters before firing it up in the last stanza. That’s the Kobe that I like. Also, Andrew Bynum (19 points, 4 blocks) had some huge clutch plays on both ends. Was nice to see him come through in the waning moments. Another note: Chris Paul (who went buckwild in their first meeting with 33 points) was held down to 4 points (his hamstring probably still bothered him).

Another good thing about this game? This game was really fun to watch for a change! I’m serious!

The Bad:
The Lakers had 16 turnovers and Kobe Bryant got careless with the ball (7 turnovers by #24), particularly with those zip passes, which were intercepted twice.

It would’ve been nice if the Lakers kept their composure a little bit more. Yes, the refs had a quick trigger today… but the Lakers had 4 technical fouls (2 by Josh McRoberts, who got ejected in the 4th). They gotta settle down a bit. I must say that these battles between the Clips and the Lakers have gotten chippier.

Also, the perimeter wasn’t really guarded well early in the game. The Clippers made six three-pointers in the first half and it was looking like that was going to be the difference in the game again. But the Lakers went ahead and locked that down, while they started making 3-pointers of their own. It was a pleasant surprise but, hey, we’ll take those, right?

And, yes, the Lakers got outrebounded once again, 42-36, by the Clippers (offensive boards in favor of the Clippers, 17-10). We gotta continue to monitor this trend.

The Ugly:
It’s hard to find anything ugly in this game as this was really a well-played game by both teams. If I had to pick something, it’s the continuous referee stoppages to call quick-trigger technicals as I mentioned earlier. It’s an emotional game, refs. Let them play. They’re not robots. You want robots, refs? Go watch some anime.

The Plays Of The Game:
We gotta go back to Metta World Peace’s two gems. A straightaway three that he made was crucial as that put the Lakers up, 87-82, with 3:30 left. I’m sure every Laker fan was screaming, “NO… NO… NO… YES!!!” A minute later, World Peace got an offensive carom off a Fisher missed 3 and assisted Bynum with a dunk that fired up the Staples Center crowd. It was so good to see Metta World Peace fired up and having fun playing basketball again. Maybe he’ll tweet about ostriches mating with pandas later since he had such a good game.

That day of practice really did the Lakers good. And they have another two days off before they face the Bucks at Milwaukee on Saturday. With a bit of momentum going into their mini-road trip, this was the game the Lakers needed. Hopefully, they can keep this rolling.

Box Score: Lakers 97, Cavs 92
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 102.1, Cavs 96.8
True Shooting %: Lakers 59.8%, Cavs 50.8%

The Good:
When Kobe Bryant is making shots, it’s a thing of beauty.

Kobe finished with 40 for the third contest in a row (42 points). He was hitting from behind the arc (4/7). He was pretty efficient at 15/31. And when the bigs got touches, they were productive. Pau Gasol had 19 points and 10 boards… while Andrew Bynum (who probably should’ve yelled more to give him the bleepin’ ball) had 15 points and 11 rebounds. It didn’t make sense to me on why they didn’t go back to Bynum more because he got off to quite a great start as he went 5/5 for 10 points after the first. Of course, the Lakers needed every single one of those points from Kobe to put them over the top… but I feel like they could’ve had an easier road to this win.

When Kobe wasn’t chucking shots, their ball movement was fantastic. The Lakers finished with a season-high 30 assists and Derek Fisher had his first 10-assist game in a century (okay, since Jan. 11, 2009). I would’ve loved to see more movement in the fourth quarter, though. That way, we wouldn’t have stressed over this contest in the last half hour or so.

Also, I can’t forget to mention Matt Barnes, who has solidified his position as the starter on the 3 spot. He finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 dimes. This spot will be his for a while.

And lastly, shoutout to Darius Morris for getting some PT with Steve Blake out.

The Bad:
This shouldn’t have finished as a five-point game.

We’d all like it better if they took care of the ball. They turned the ball often in the early parts of the game, which kept the game within striking distance. They finished with 17 turnovers, which is still a pretty high number. But I suppose that’s better than 27.

The Lakers were up as much as 19 points but they let them back into the game in the fourth quarter. And really, while everyone is going to praise Kobe for hitting 40 points for the third straight game, he basically played his own brand of basketball for most of the second half. The game of basketball can be really simple at times; what is wrong with feeding the bigs? Again, Bynum only had four more shots after the first quarter (and I had mentioned that he was being dominant at the early part of the game).

The Cavs also had too many offensive boards (Cavs had 13, Lakers had 7). Box out, Lakers. Shouldn’t be that difficult.

The Ugly:
To whoever watched this game at the fourth quarter? You knew how ugly it was. It seemed like the guards were content to dribble out the shotclock and then pass it to someone like Pau or Matt Barnes to bail them out. They didn’t score in the fourth until 6:31 left when Barnes cherrypicked for a dunk.

The starters played well for the most part, yes… but the bench was atrocious today. Yeah, it would’ve been nice if Metta World Peace (back, achilles) and Steve Blake (ribs) were able to play the game but I thought the bench could produce more than four points. On the other side, the Cavs’ bench scored 36 points. Yeah, that’s a huge disparity.

The Play Of The Game:
I like the back-to-back transition plays that involved both Pau Gasol and Matt Barnes. There was that fastbreak by the Lakers in the third quarter where Barnes lobbed it to Pau for an alley-oop lay-up. And then it was followed by Pau dribbling down the court that ended in an alley-oop dunk by Barnes. They should be BFFs after that little exchange there.

The Lakers are fun to watch when they’re moving the ball and in transition. They will need to do more of that against the Clippers tomorrow night.

But I suppose it’s nice to see Kobe Bryant to get 40 points again. I guess.